MARION — The Marion City Council voted Thursday to establish a community equity working group with the Marion Alliance for Racial Equity.
The decision was unanimous.
The working group comes out of recommendations the Marion Alliance presented to the city council last month.
The working group will have 13 members, including the city manager, police chief, two city council members, a civil rights commission staff liaison, two civil rights commission members, two Marion Alliance for Racial Equity members, one Marion business owner and three Marion residents.
Mayor Nick AbouAssaly said any proposed policy changes would come to the city council for action.
“The working group is to look at what the data is and what the facts are, explore what the issues are in the community and come up with recommendations on how to address those issues,” AbouAssaly said. “Any policy changes or spending matters would have to come to the council.”
City Manager Lon Pluckhahn said the first meeting for any new group is typically organizational, figuring out when meetings will take place. As of now, he said, there is no meeting schedule established for the community equity working group.
Pluckhahn also said the public’s opportunity to take part in meeting would be structured within agendas. like other committee meetings.
Among the Marion Alliance recommendations are to stop racial profiling in traffic stops, to establish a citizens police review board and to make city departments more respectful, welcoming and diverse.
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During a July 23 council meeting, Sophia Joseph, a co-founder of the Marion Alliance, said racial profiling is the No. 1 concern in Marion. Though 2.5 percent of Marion’s population is Black, 16 percent of police use-of-force incidents have involved Black individuals, she said at the time.
One point of discussion was making sure the city’s civil rights commission is part of the working group’s discussions.
Earlier this week, the city announced an online community equity and inclusion survey of Marion residents. The survey is to help city leaders understand the experiences of residents from all walks of life, a news release said.
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